Marketing Fruits & Veggies: Hip! Cool! Manipulative?

How do you get kids to eat more fruits and veggies? Make it hip and cool of course! At least that’s the thinking behind the brand new FNV Campaign (details in this brandchannel story).

The campaign aims to make FNV (an acronym for Fruits ‘n’ Veggies) a big American brand, brought to you by the Partnership for a Healthier America, a spinoff of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. FNV is launching with big name celebrities and athletes on board and lots of social media.

The intent is great, and appropriate for the targeted age group. But I worry about what seems to be a main message: Get ready to be marketed to.

The FNV premise is that marketing is big business and it’s about time that fruits and veggies get big marketing dollars. OK, that’s good. It’s when this internal strategy becomes the external message that I think things go off the track. Do people really like “being marketing to”? I think the presentation comes across as heavy handed – as in “we’re going to manipulate you just like the big brands do, so get ready.” Where’s the good??

My guess is that the specific celebs and messages were tested with formative research and generated positive feedback. But if the overall positioning strategy is lacking or off, then the messaging doesn’t matter. It means good execution of a bad idea.

I predict that the campaign will quickly pivot away from the manipulation message to something equally powerful but more appealing. We’ll see!